This answer to Are astronomers waiting to see something in an image from a gravitational lens that they've already seen in an adjacent image? describes "Deja vu all over again" (SN "Refsdal"); after multiple gravitationally lensed images of a supernova were observed with different path lengths an shifted light curves, one more "echo" was predicted then indeed was later observed.

While that's a rarity, occultations of objects by other objects are regularly predicted, and some of the nearer objects are pretty far, at least in the Kuiper belt. But alas they are not usually very massive.

Gravitational microlensing events are defined by a peak in a light curve rather than a measurable deflection. From How are microlensing events used to constrain the size of innermost stable circular orbits around spinning black holes?:

Example light curve of Gravitational Microlensing event - OGLE-2005-BLG-006

Example light curve of Gravitational Microlensing event - OGLE-2005-BLG-006 Source

Question: Has a gravitational microlensing event ever been predicted? If so, has it been observed?

Related to stellar occultations by distant objects:


In the pre-Gaia era, this was effectively impossible to do, since positions and proper motions weren't precise enough for a large enough sample of stars. With the release of Gaia data, though, it has become an active area of research.

Bramich 2018 predicts 76 events, while Nielsen & Bramich 2018 extend this to predict an additional 27 events using Pan-STaRRS data for very low mass stars as additional lensing objects against Gaia background stars.

Klüter et al. 2018 also predict 3914 events, and there may be other papers as well.

Note that many of the predicted events are for astrometric microlensing, where the position of the background star would be measurably shifted, rather than the usual photometric microlensing, where it gets brighter. The latter requires closer alignment for a measurable event than the former does. But some of the events would yield measurable brightening as well.

McGill et al. 2020 suggest that many of the predictions are flawed, being due to either binary companions of the lens star (which would be co-moving and thus would not be lensed, since both stars are moving together) or to cases where there is a duplicate detection in the Gaia catalog (i.e. the candidate lens star and background star are both the same object). They revise the overall list of predictions, but still retain many events.

As far as I can tell none of these events has been observed yet, but the predictions are there.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.